Solid Start For New Look Jets
Oxhey Jets 2 Spartans Youth 0
Combined Counties Division One
5th August 2023
A goal in each half from the returning Andre Lopes secured the three points for Jets on the season’s opening game.
Jets managers Tom Inch & Dave Barnes will and should be pleased with the opening points as, in reality, this is the first time the squad has all played together.
Multiple changes from last season as players were lost to the pyramid number snobbery forgetting they were part of the cause !!
Jets squad today only had 5 players from last season and, being so young, they are a dream for coaching purists. The first half display, in particular, was exciting and full of belief for the club’s future. The new “baby of the house” is Olly Pope at 16, hoping to emulate his dad Lee’s championship years with the club. Another good thing for club progression is Harry Knight joining Owen Ayres as a player playing with their dad in the “vets” and then progressing to the first team. Great to see this and a big addition of youngsters from Warren Gladdy’s Pro Direct academy, a fantastic passageway that puts their player’s progress first.
Jets played some superb touch football and were really on a buzz, chances were coming but slightly worryingly being wasted during a pressure period, but we know the cutting edge comes with games and experience.
Andre Lopes returns to the club following an injury spell out. He was a major part of the highly successful Jets seasons and returned with a bang, both goals being Thunderbolt finishes.
The first goal was set up with a perfect layback from Avtandili Akhsiashvili and was met superbly with a curler by Andre past a former Jets keeper, Davis Boateng 1-0 (23 mins).
Jets didn’t get it all their way and Spartans thought they were level but were denied by the flag, as both sides played very open football.
Jets in fairness died away a little in the second period and the midfield in particular looked leggy. Some of the youngsters went into their shells a little, holding what they had, and then the defenders had to do their job and they did it very well. The centre-back partnership of Ben Delicata and Craig Stephen-Lett was outstanding and the new full-backs Archie Sykes and Harry Knight also had very stable debuts.
Jets had a bit of luck when the ball went in the net off a back post/crossbar deflection that deceived the keeper but were again saved by the flag that was up as soon as the ball was crossed.
Then Jets hit the perfect counter. Andre again burst through and was brought down and got up to take his spot kick, but was denied by a good save by Davis. but he had no hope of even seeing, never mind stopping, the follow-up hammered into the net by Andre for 2-0 (81 min) and game over.
The Carlsberg Man of the Match probably swung from front to back in the two periods. Two goals Andre and the menace of Avtandili up front and Ben Delicata solid and so many last-gasp tackles in the second, and the nod went to his counterpart Craig Stephen-Lett with a tremendous debut for the club.
Spartans probably feel they had a good period in the second half and didn’t grab their chance of something and Jets must learn from that and accept that in every game there will always be a period of pressure, ride it, defend it and spring back just as they did works fine.
A special mention for the fantastic support from the Jets Youth Mascots. The mascots and the new kits and disco Darren on the vibes gave the day a great buzz and this young Jets side responded to it all.
Just one game but in sports enjoy it when you can.
Footnote: Our first match last season was played in 21 degrees hotter temperatures on pitches burned to straw.
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